Jack and Tara Benmeleh are native Miamians whose collecting ambitions have grown in tandem with the city’s community of art patrons. Their contrasting aesthetic inclinations—Tara tends towards muted and monochrome work, while Jack is drawn to a louder aesthetic—are reflected in their collection. Their tastes span from street art and irreverent works by David Shrigley and Jon Pylypchuk to enigmatic paintings by Greg Ito and Math Bass, neon by Awol Erizku and a large healing gong sculpture by Guadalupe Maravilla.
Jack, who works as a lawyer specialising in property insurance disputes, co-chairs the young collectors board at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Tara has honed her aesthetic instincts founding Espiritútara, a lifestyle brand offering jewellery, tea ceremonies and more. During Miami Art Week, they are proficient fairgoers and socialisers, but never too busy to advise a visitor on a great dinner destination.
The Art Newspaper: What was the first work you ever bought?
Jack and Tara Benmeleh: The first work we ever bought was from a local Miami street artist in Wynwood during Art Basel. We had no idea about collecting, and we wanted to buy something cool that represented Miami and Wynwood. We quickly learned more about the local art community and immersed ourselves in museums and galleries, and we befriended many artists. Through this exploration, we learned about the art world and how it operates.
What was the most recent work you bought?
A huge Donna Huanca painting; it took us ten years to agree on a colour scheme.
How quickly do you decide to buy a work of art?
We know right away when we want something.
What do you regret not buying when you had the chance?
Early Robert Nava and Katherine Bernhardt.
What is the most unusual place you’ve installed a piece in your home?
Tara always wants to hang work on the ceiling, but Jack isn’t up for it.
If you could have any work from any museum in the world, what would it be?
For Jack, it would be Las Meninas (1656) by Diego Velázquez in the Museo Nacional del Prado. For Tara, it would be the James Turrell skyspace Within without (2010) at the National Gallery in Australia.
What are you looking forward to at Art Basel in Miami Beach this year?
We can’t lie, we love the parties and connecting with our friends from all around the world.
What is your least favourite thing about art fairs?
In Miami, it’s hard to see the art when you’re saying hi to so many people from our hometown as well as art world friends.
What tip would you give to someone visiting Miami for the first time?
Don’t forget to go to the beach and connect to the earth during such a crazy week—it helps.
Where do you like to eat and drink in Miami?
For sushi, Yasu Tanaka and B-Side in the Design District are great. Boia De is our neighbourhood bistro—it received Michelin stars the past two years—and Mandolin for a slice of the Mediterranean in our backyard.